“That suit can fit a little bit better,” I state, “Cinch at the waste a little bit.”
“Don’t think it’s sexy enough?” Topaz asks.
The other two brothers are there as well. It’s been a few days since I caught Onyx with Syn. I had stormed out of the room clearly too embarrassed talk to Onyx about it. I had avoided him ever since but today was the Tux fitting for the Social Media awards.
“It can fit better,” I state.
“Fine let’s take this in a few inches…” Topaz instructs the seamstress.
“European cut. We have to make Topaz look like he has some style,” I respond with a teasing elbow to Topaz’s arm.
I want to make things light-hearted. I was still on a mission to get these brothers back on the same page so that everything didn’t fall apart. The difference now from before is that they had someone to follow now. That person was me.
“Oh please. You know you like everything I put on,” Topaz responds.
I swear I see Onyx bury his head at that moment and Copper look awkwardly away. Topaz flashes me a smile when he says it. Every day he’s getting more and more bold with his flirtatious nature when it came to me. I’m not sure the spectrum but it was quite clear that both Onyx and Copper knew something was going on between Topaz and I. Did they know he nutted in me three times a day, I’m not sure. Whatever they did know or suspect made things awkward. Really awkward.
“Are we almost done here?” Copper asks, “We got the tuxedos.”
“Almost. Gem needs his,” Topaz suggests.
“You’re going to the awards too,” Topaz lets me know with a grin, “You’re a Monroe brother too, remember?”
He was walking right into it. I squirm when I turn to the side and see Onyx roll his eyes so hard you would have thought there was a hurricane behind his eyelids.
“You sound like you just had a revelation,” Onyx states, “Didn’t realize he was your brother this morning?”
“What’s that supposed to mean,” Topaz asks.
I wonder if Topaz knows what Onyx means by that and he just wants to make him say it. It takes me a second myself to realize what he was talking about this morning. This morning Topaz woke me up to a hard dick. He held me down and fucked me so hard I was screaming. I was able to muffle myself when I caught how loud I was being but then I realize that maybe I didn’t muffle myself hard enough. Maybe Onyx heard us this morning.
“Nothing…” Onyx states.
Onyx turns to me. He gives me this knowing glare. He knew. He definitely knew. I wasn’t the only one who caught it either. Topaz has been staring him down and he comes down on his brother like a fierce bulldog in the next few seconds.
“Why don’t you open your fucking mouth and say what you got to say?” Topaz responds, “You always got some smart ass bullshit to say behind our back.”
I notice Topaz is using the term “our”. I wonder if Onyx notices it too. I see Onyx stand up in a way that a few months ago, he wouldn’t have stood up. It’s clear that he means business. It’s clear that he’s not wanting to back down from Topaz. And I know that this peace I’ve been trying to broker is going to be harder to achieve than ever.
I shuffle between them.
“Listen guys calm down. Please.”
“Gem is right, we’re in public,” Copper states.
I look over at Copper. Things had been weird with Onyx and me but things had been fucking strange with me and Copper. He had gotten out of his little Jericho funk for the most part and was keeping himself busy in work. That wasn’t the problem. The problem is I found myself feeling awkward around him. Even now when he backs me up I feel these butterflies break out in my stomach.
The old Copper would have been the one starting this argument. Not stopping it. The accident with Jericho had definitely changed him.
I’m just trying to figure out if it changed something in me as well.
“I’ll go try this on,” I state.
Topaz is heated but luckily he gets a call so he walks out. I take the opportunity of the temporary peace to go into the dressing room and try on one of the tuxedos that the designer has picked out in his rack.
The price tags on these things were expensive and when I feel the fabric on my naked skin I have to admit I begin to absolutely realize just how nice this lifestyle is. The expensive things were something that I wasn’t used to. These boys were rich and privileged and honestly, they did a bunch of nothing. Any idiot could do a fucking youtube video. They were basically famous for being famous.
“Those look nice on you.”
I turn at that moment and see that none other than Onyx has pulled back the curtain to join me in the dressing room. Onyx is looking me up and down. At this moment I’m pulling up my pants but I think he gets a good view of my ass in my underwear. I wonder what he thinks. I actually like it that his eyes linger on me for a few seconds longer than they should.
“I’m alright,” I state, “Topaz is buying them.”
“Like he gave you 5k yesterday?” he asks.
“I know about that. What you using the money for?” he asks at that moment with a raised eyebrow.
“It’s my first paycheck. Doesn’t matter what I’m using the money for. He just is paying me in advance.”
“Pay? Sounds like a sugar daddy to me…”
I turn away from him. This was the first time we were alone since the incident and already I can see his issue with my relationship with his brother coming at me hard.
“Onyx get to the point please.”
“Fine. The point. Let’s do it. So can we talk about the other day?”
“What’s there to talk about?”
“You know what I mean. Come on… Things are awkward man. Real awkward. Let’s just get it out the way and address the elephant in the room. It’s a goddam big elephant if you ask me. And I’m not talking about that ass of yours.”
I sneer, raise my eyes and jerk them towards him, “What about it?”
“You said you loved me.”
“That means something,” he responds.
“Does it? Because you barely know ‘Dr. Grady’ but you’re not only fucking a guy way older than you but you’re also telling him the same thing. Guess that word just has a habit of getting thrown around a lot lately. Must be the social media age. Huh?”
I know I’m being snappy about it. I can’t help it.
“I didn’t just throw it around.”
“So you meant it?” I ask.
He pauses. I can see him thinking about it for a moment.
“He understands me. In a way that no one has understood me before,” he explains at that moment defending his decision, “So yeah. Yeah. I do love him.”
I shake my head. This shit hurts. This shit hurts more than anything anyone has ever done to me. And this is Syn doing this. He was playing his card. He had promised he would hurt me and he had succeeded. Motherfucker.
“You barely know him.”
“He knows me though. I share everything with him.”
“He knows you here now?”
“At the suit shop. Yes.”
I knew that much. I had overheard Onyx mention to Copper the other day in the kitchen that Dr. Grady asked him to share his location. At first, I thought it was strange but then it all made sense. Syn wanted to know where his little tool to hurt me was every minute of the day. That was his way in to get the money that he needed.
“He knows you in my dressing room having a conversation with me? Staring at my ass.”
There is a short silence, “That’s not the point. I didn’t come to argue man. I just came because…I wanted to apologize for saying you had to leave.”
I stop giving him a mean mug, just for a moment. I turn to him. I wasn’t expecting him to say any of this.
He nods, “Yeah. See, the more I think about it, maybe I’m not as attracted to you as I originally thought. I want you to stay and I want us to work on our brotherly relationship. And I want your blessing with Dr. Grady.”
I can’t believe I’m hearing this. He smiles as though I should be happy to hear this. I can’t believe that he has the nerve to say this. It’s clear what this is. At this moment Syn Clinton has brainwashed Onyx into believing almost anything and it was clear he was lost.
The car ride back is awkward as hell. No one is talking. Maybe they are just enjoying the ride. I don’t know. I know why I’m not talking. I’m pissed. I’m pissed at what Syn is doing.
Out of nowhere, it’s Copper who looks over and says, “So when did Dr. Grady say my meeting was again?”
He’s talking to Onyx. My heart drops when I hear it.
“Wait. You have an appointment to talk to Dr. Grady?” I ask.
“I referred him,” Onyx responds.
No. No. FUCK NO! Syn was making his rounds. He was doing this on purpose. Somehow Syn knew things. At first, I wonder how but then I remember that he had Onyx wrapped around his finger. Onyx was probably sharing all his perspective with Syn. And where Onyx couldn’t fill in the blanks I’m sure Syn was smart enough to figure it out. There was no other reason why Syn would want to meet with Copper. He knew that I wanted all three boys for myself. He was trying to stop that.
“You guys barely know this guy,” I state.
“Honestly, I was thinking about going as well,” Topaz responds.
“You got to be shitting me.”
“What are you so upset about?” Onyx asks, “Dr. Grady knows what he’s doing. He knows how to help. I promise.”
He sounded so confident about it. Hearing Onyx sell Dr. Grady you would think he was the next Iyanla: Fix My Life or something. If he knew just how batshit crazy Syn Clinton was he’d run in the opposite direction.
“Yeah relax,” Topaz states stopping at the stop sign and turning around, “Why are you tripping? Do you know Dr. Grady or something? You seem to be taking this all kind of personal.”
“Yeah, your face contorts every time we mention the guy,” Copper cosigns, “If you know something you need to tell us.”
They all look at me. They are all wondering the same thing. The spotlight is on me and for a moment I think about telling them about how he was sleeping with Onyx. I think about telling him how he is a fake doctor. I think about telling them everything, but then I realize that I had more to lose in this situation then Syn did. Syn actually had nothing to lose. I knew for damn sure he wasn’t emotionally invested in Onyx.
This was a game for Syn.
But I had to do something. Something.
Just at that moment, there is a loud sound. SOMEONE BANGING ON THE HOOD!
“OPEN THE FUCKING DOOR!”
The person has a gun. I turn and realize we are on an empty block at a stop sign. I’m sitting in the passenger seat. On my side is another guy with a gun.
I take a look at the guy and notice the dragon tattoo on his wrist. He’s clearly a Spanish guy, probably a local gang banger or something like that. This isn’t the part of the city that they would be at though. It’s clear they traveled to come here. This block was really quiet though. When they pull up to us it’s almost as though they were waiting for us somehow. It’s almost as though they had been expecting some rich boys to pull up to this very stop sign so they can jump out of their cars.
They had gotten to us far too fast. This ambush was far too clean.
“Pull off!” I am screaming at Topaz.
The guy on my side reacts to me saying that by hitting me hard in the face. My nose leaks blood as Topaz reaches over to me at that moment and grabs me to pull me closer to him. I can tell that Topaz is trying to be protective of me but he isn’t the only one.
“Don’t hit him!” Copper barks from the back seat of the car.
I swear if the guy with the tattoo doesn’t wave the gun at Copper at that moment, I think Copper would have gotten out of the car and attacked the guy. I look over at Topaz. Topaz’s heart is beating faster and faster. He’s terrified.
“No. OK. We aren’t pulling off, OK? We’re here. Pay attention to me. My little brothers don’t know what they are saying. Talk to me. OK. What do you want?” Topaz asks the guys.
Topaz was taking control of the situation. He was taking responsibility. I look at the back and see Copper and Onyx. They are both are looking at me and it seems like they definitely want to fight.
“Get out of the car…” the guy with the tattoo states.
“I’ll get out. They stay in.”
“YO GET THE FUCK OF THE CAR! WE ARENT GOING TO ASK AGAIN!”
The anger in the perpetrator’s voice is real. They mean business. We all knew it. Maybe that’s why we all get out of the car at the same time. We line up one next to the other. Sweat is rolling down my forehead. It’s hot as hell and the stares under the masks of the two men are making things even hotter. Things are weird as hell.
Things were harsh.
“You know who the fuck we are?” Onyx asks.
Topaz elbows him. He elbows him hard. Onyx wasn’t used to gangsters. That was the privilege talking. As far as Onyx knew these people should respect him because he had a bunch of teenage girls obsessed with him. I don’t think he ever saw a gun in his life and I can tell he thinks he’s above getting shot. Luckily Topaz is there.
“Shut up,” Topaz tells Onyx.
“Do what the fuck you got to do,” Copper growls at the men with the guns.
Copper is the angry one. I can see him sizing them up. He’s wondering if he can take them. Looking at him I think Copper probably could. He was tough. That was for damn sure, but he knows these people had guns so he just swallows his pride and stands there.
“What do you get?” they ask.
“What do you mean?”
“Money. How much do you have?”
“Can we check?” Topaz asks.
“No don’t you fucking move. DON’T YOU FUCKING MOVE!”
“We need to go into our pockets to check how much money we have on us,” Topaz tries to reason with the men in a calm voice.
“You. You with the bloody nose. You go in all their pockets. Get their wallets. Get their phones. Get anything of any value. And send give it here. Give it to me.”
He was talking to me.
I look at Topaz. Topaz nods, “Do it, Gem.”
Just at that moment, I do what the guys say. I walk over to the three brothers and start going in their pockets. I start taking out all of their valuables. I gather everything together in a neat pile.
“Now bring it here…” the man with the dragon tattoo states.
I do what he says taking the wallets over to them. My hands are shaking when I take it over to them. They gather the wallet. They gather the phones. They gather everything that is worth anything. Then when they have everything they look over at us.
“That’s it,” Topaz states.
“You’re lying. Rich boys like you. I know you have more on you.”
“We don’t carry cash on us man,” Onyx states, “We’re green. We are environmentally friendly. Cash isn’t biodegradable. Paying with plastic is the more environmentally friendly choice.”
“Environmentally friendly?” one of the stick-up kids ask.
They both broke break out into laughter.
“It sounds dumb but he’s telling the truth. We don’t carry cash,” Copper backs up his brother.
“He said they would have cash on them?”
“He?” Topaz asks, “Who’s he?”
“They are lying man. Man make them tell us,” one of the guys says.
Just at that moment, the guy with the dragon tattoo pulls out a knife. Just at that moment, he takes a few steps towards Copper.
Before he gets too far I jump in his way.
That’s when I feel the knife stick me. IT GOUGES ME! It hits me hard. And all of a sudden there is more blood. All three brothers surround me. They are making a big deal as I fall to the ground. They are making a huge deal.
And I smile.
For a moment I think I’m in heaven.
I wake up in a hospital. The brothers are all around me.
“He’s up,” a voice states.
I wake up at that moment and I’m in bandages. The nurse comes over to take my temperature. The brothers are off to the side. It’s Onyx who is actually holding my hand. Topaz is standing at the foot of the bed but its Copper who has the impact. He’s standing off to the side. He’s looking at me and he has this concern in his eyes that is something that I really haven’t seen before.
“Why’d you do it?” Copper asks, “Why’d you take that knife for me?”
“Because I love you,” I state.
I say it bluntly. I say it as bluntly as I can. I watch as Copper begins to cry. Tears are falling down his eyes. Our eyes connect. He can’t take it. I watch as he leaves at that moment. He just walks out of the room.
“He blames himself,” Topaz states, explaining Copper running off in the way he does, “After you got stabbed though it was Copper who damn near ran them off. They were too fucking scared to shoot him. He drove them off and kept the pressure on your wound until we were able to get to the hospital.”
“Were they caught?” I ask.
Topaz shakes his head, “Nah. Not after Copper ran them off. He couldn’t help himself. He felt like the knife should have been his. He blames himself for getting you hurt.”
“It’s not his fault,” Onyx states, “It’s mine.”
“It’s no one’s fault,” I assure Onyx.
There is a pause. Looking at their faces it feels as though there is something they want to say that they aren’t sharing. I can see it. It’s Onyx who crosses his arms and sighs a little bit.
“The cops say that this was an inside job. Those guys were on that street corner for what seemed like hours planning for us to pull up.”
“An inside job?” I ask, “Impossible…”
I’m breathing fast. Topaz can hear it. Maybe that’s why he squeezes my hand tighter. He wants to make sure that I feel safe at this moment.
Topaz nods, “What Onyx saying is only the beginning. When they were running they dropped a phone. It was one of the theirs. It was an empty phone. A burner phone. There was only one number in it though.”
I tell the brothers I don’t feel safe that night. They promise that by morning they were going to have multiple security guards all around us. Dr. Grady wouldn’t be able to get close to any of us again. They promised me that they would do anything to make sure that the cops found Dr. Grady and put him UNDER the prison. A few hours later Topaz came back with an update that it looks as though Dr. Grady had fled Los Angeles.
He was making a run for it. His phone was off and when the police tracked down the hotel he was staying at they were told that he ran away in a quick hurry.
I still tell them I don’t feel safe. I am really being selfish. With Syn gone, there was nothing else to worry about. They all stay…even Copper. I wake up in the middle of the night realizing that the brothers won’t leave my side. I can tell after I warned them about Dr. Grady they feel as though they should have trusted my ‘intuition’. That’s what I called it. I called it intuition. I just knew Dr. Grady was no good.
Onyx promised to stay away from Dr. Grady. It was for the best. It was clear Dr. Grady was the one who set them up to get robbed. It was obviously clear.
I walk out of the room. The stab wound went deep. It went real deep. I leave the sleeping boys in the middle of the night to walk to the vending machine in the hospital. That’s when I see someone sitting there in the waiting room.
And he’s doing what people do in waiting rooms.
“Hey,” I state.
“You got it?”
“Go to this location. It’ll be waiting for you.”
I put the information on his phone. He grabs the phone away.
“Nice doing business with you.”
“Not so nice for me,” I tell him, “You cut too deep. You could have killed me. That wasn’t the plan.”
“I had to make it believable.”
I nod and walk away from the guy with the dragon tattoo on his arm.
It’s amazing what you can convince a random stranger in the hoods of Los Angeles to do for you for 5 thousand dollars.